Genre: Young Adult, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Publishing House: Harperteen
Number of pages: 448
Source: ARC from Edelweiss
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It’s been three months since Amy escaped New Hope, and she’s been surviving on her own, like she did in the After. Until one day, her former fellow Guardian’s voice rings out in her earpiece. And in a desperate tone, Kay utters the four words Amy had hoped she would never hear: Dr. Reynolds has Baby.
Now it’s a race against time, for Baby is in imminent danger, her life threatened by the malevolent doctor who had helped start the end of the world. In order to save Baby, Amy must make her way to Fort Black, a prison-turned-survivor-colony, where she will need to find Ken, Kay’s brother. He alone holds the key to Baby’s survival.
One small slip-up on this quest could spark a downward spiral that would not only cost Baby and Amy their lives, but threaten the very survival of the people in the After.
Disclaimer: There may be possible spoilers if you haven’t read book 1. BEWARE!
Ugh… this book.
Forgive me if you’ve heard me say this before, but I love zombie books. I always look forward to reading settings with these flesh-eating abominations and how the survivors would cope and deal with them. I want to see what steps they’ll take in order to live normally again, how they’ll manage the psychological warfare amongst each other that will inevitably come. The social collapse and how it will rise up again interest me a lot, as well as the ethics of a human person, and how low they will go when things become desperate. That’s why I love reading this subgenre so much – there’s so many themes to explore beyond the gore and the blood.
Unfortunately, In The End, the sequel to In The After which also serves as the end to the duology, somehow fell short. I was not very impressed with the first book, so I had hoped that the second installment would be more epic. While it certainly did give some answers with regards to the mystery of the Floraes, the main character was insufferable, the love triangle was annoying, and the pacing was awful.
In fact, if you ask me, I’d divide this book into two parts:
1.) The dragging prison arc where the same shit happens over and over again (the MC not learning from her mistakes each time), and;
2.) The ending which could just be the most rushed ending ever, while also portraying one of the most cliché villains in the worst way possible.
The Prison: Fort Black
Amy has left New Hope and has been in the wild for a few months now. She left Baby there and in the hands of Rice, hoping he will keep her safe. One day, the most predictable shit happened: Baby got taken by Dr. Reynolds, the eeeevil scientist! Well, I’m sure everybody saw that coming… how else would the plot move along, especially since Amy’s world revolves around Baby now? In any case, Kay instructs her to find her brother, Ken, in Fort Black – someone who will surely help her take Baby back.
Let’s talk about the positives: Fort Black is a shithole, and the book shows that grim atmosphere effectively. You can really feel the stink of desperation and starvation here, especially with how it’s crammed with 2000 people, some of them criminals, in extremely close quarters. Like how a prison goes, there is usually an alpha here who makes and enforces his own law, and does things that benefit him and keep others in line. I’m not sure I’d want to be in such an environment if this were to happen in real life. You may be safe from the “zombies” outside, but one should wonder if there are far worse dangers inside the walls.
But, see, Amy knows it’s dangerous. We know it’s dangerous. The MC describes the place enough for us to retch in its monstrosity. However, for some unworldly reason, she seems to have lost her common sense and sense of self-preservation, and every time she does something without thinking of it first, it drives me up a wall and I can’t help but feel so fucking annoyed.
1.) You wanna win the game? Then. Play. The. Fucking. Game. In this prison, the males rule. Many of them are former criminals, and it’s hard to fight against such brutality. This especially does not bode well for women, who find themselves victims of such people. In order to be protected from others, you need to be “claimed” by a man, ideally a powerful one with enough connections to intimidate other even worse men away. Amy was lucky enough to meet Jacks whose uncle was the Warden, and he decided to pretend to claim her so she can be protected from the sleazebags.
However, Amy is kinda… wishy-washy with this primitive concept. She at first recognizes the value of being under Jacks’ name. She’s still seen as fresh meat by the disgusting inmates, and this hinders her from reaching her goal. Yet, every now and then, she argues with him about being “owned” even though both of them know it’s merely a farce. She once even yelled at him about it (which could have compromised her already good situation since DUH JACKS IS THE WARDEN’S NEPHEW), to the point of running away from him which then led her to the arms of bad men who decided to take advantage of her. They almost won over her if they weren’t interrupted by superpower Brenna, who, bless her heart, reminded her that she’s just making her situation worse.
And I’m shaking my head here because she speaks the fucking truth. INSTEAD OF GOING AGAINST THE RULES, USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE, YOU FUCKING IDIOT. YOU’RE SURROUNDED BY HUNGRY MEN WHO DON’T HAVE ANYONE, NOT EVEN THE LAW BECAUSE IT’S USELESS AT THIS POINT, TO STOP THEM FROM ACTING ON THEIR WANTS.
… which leads to point numero dos.
2.) DON’T LET YOUR BRAIN GATHER DUST. USE IT.Look, I’m all for reckless girls, because that screams personality, but I like reckless girls who can use their brains. I want them to take their surroundings into consideration, and be one step ahead of everyone else, even if there’s a chance of their plans failing. Unfortunately, Amy seems to have lost it somewhere.
This is where it feels like this arc is dragging. This part of the book is pretty much composed of this:
* Find this guy, get attacked
* Rinse and repeat
I am not kidding.
It was so tiring to see Amy doing the same mistakes over and over again and then ending up facing the same consequences, and then whining about it later. “Don’t go out of the room!” *goes out anyway* *gets attacked* “Don’t step out while I’m away. We’ll find this person together.” *goes out by herself anyway* *gets attacked* “Don’t—” *goes out anyway* *gets attacked*
And this keeps happening over and over again, and it was so tiring to read the same developments being done in circles. Like okay, we get it, Amy’s recklessly reckless, and everyone’s out to kill her. CAN WE PLEASE MOVE ON AND, OH, DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT?
2.) DON’T SAY SOMETHING AND THEN DO THE OPPOSITE. THAT. BLOWS.Ugh, this one pisses me off.
You see, I try not to take it against the book if it features a selfish character. All of us are selfish in our own little ways, and I get that. It makes the hero or the heroine far more relatable because it’s impossible to find a person absolutely and inherently selfless (I mean, it probably happens, but still, it’s probably a 1 in a million).
But it’s just a load of bullcrap when you say one thing and then do the other.
Somewhere along the way, we get a few revelations, and Amy gets into a heated conversation with Jacks. She tells him how what is being done in the prison is wrong, and how it degrades human life and all that. How it’s wrong to treat people like they’re expendable. I admired her little speech, but when she later is willing to trade someone else’s life for Baby’s, even if that person gets tortured and hurt in her place, I got pissed.
Like, wow. Did you just forget that you were talking about how everyone was valuable, and now you’re saying their life isn’t really worth that much compared to Baby? That you’re willing to let them be hurt, possibly killed, as long as Baby’s okay? WHAT THE HELL.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand where Amy’s coming from. I’d probably do the same for my family and friends, for anyone who’s close and dear to my heart. But it would be so much better if she’s upfront about this from the very start, and didn’t say those things if she were going to do the opposite. That’s what pissing me off.
In any case, I felt this part was very dragging and migraine-inducing. The main character was so annoying she made me want to punch a wall. Thankfully, she gets out, and goes back to New Hope…
Now this one is probably worse than the first, despite being waaaay shorter. This part feels very rushed, because we’re thrown to one event after another, all of them lacking build-up. It’s like they keep having and executing these plans, but since there’s no exposition or “real” conflict, it feels like things happen so smoothly and easily. Oh, we’re stuck? How convenient, I know just the person! Oh, we need this particular person to get to that part of the lab? Knock, knock! Who’s there? Oh, it’s me, the person you’re looking for! What a coincidence!
And this makes me sad a little because this part was way more interesting than the one in Fort Black. We get to see the real antagonists again, see the people we last saw in the previous book, yada yada yada, but it just doesn’t feel enough. Plus the fact there were a few grievances along the way:
1.) Cliché Villain. Seriously, I remember rolling my eyes when the antagonist went on this dramatic monologue (which in that span of time could have been used to kill him, but whatever, what do I know) how he did what he did because…
wait for it…
wait for it…
BECAUSE HE HAD TO CLEAN HUMANITY’S MISTAKE AND THAT A RECONSTRUCTION OF THE WORLD WAS IN ORDER!!!
…just like 1874056 other villains before him.
Dude. That “cleanse the world” reason is just so damn overused. It’s what I expect now, and I was seriously hoping there was another reason, even if it was cliché, as long as it was, you know, less cliché than that.
2.) Rushed. Ending. It doesn’t help the fact that we keep getting reminded of how crazy and manipulative and dangerous this antagonist was, that you’d expect there would be a drawn-out confrontation later, something explosive that would really end this shitty situation in a bang, only for him to be detained in a few pages by falling for the lamest of tricks.
And I’m like:
“Shit, that’s all it took?! WHY HASN’T ANYONE DONE IT BEFORE IF IT WAS THAT FUCKING EASY?!”
I’m just so disappointed, you know? I expected way more than that crappy climax. It was over too soon and too conveniently. It felt like I was in a mad dash to the finish line and I wasn’t even able to look at my surroundings.
3.) AND. THAT. ENDING. Some people may say that the ending was an open one. I didn’t think it was an open ending because we got a concrete picture of what was going to happen (the resolution), but the problem is, the book ended just before that happened. And I feel pretty cheated, to be honest.
I don’t even want to think about the “closure” of the love triangle. It was the lamest closure I’ve ever seen. How do I explain this? It’s like she randomly chose someone between the two of them, and then left the other person to just take the hint. And you know what’s worse? It doesn’t feel like it was justifiable. I mean I get her reasons for choosing one over the other, but it felt like a cop-out to me. She spent a lot of time with each of them in the two books (one boy each), but it just didn’t feel right somehow. She somehow chose one dude while not explaining anything to the other guy, who didn’t even know he was in a love triangle in the first place.
I feel sorry for him.
I’m disappointed. I wasn’t wow-ed by the first book, but I felt that was a stronger book than this one. It’s such a shame because I liked the author’s writing style, but it felt like this book was running out of ideas and started recycling and ending things early. I’ll still check out the Lunetta’s future works, because she has a lot of promise, but I don’t think I’ll be putting this one in my Hall of Faves.
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